Three Ways to Get Unstuck
Updated: Dec 6, 2021
A few years ago, after nearly a decade in executive recruitment, I started to feel stuck. I was unmotivated, watching the clock, and disengaged from the work that used to fill me with energy. From an outsider's perspective this would have been confusing. I loved my colleagues and worked well with them. I earned a good income, worked reasonable hours and never on weekends. I was successful in my work and used many of my skills.
I wondered aloud with friends if I was having a mid-life crisis. I felt a deep need for change.
A few years earlier in 2011, my father died- a month shy of his 60th birthday. It was then that I started considering that my life may be shorter than once imagined.
Soon after he passed away life got busy. We bought a house and had kids. When my second child was born in 2016 the nagging questions returned.
Is this all there is? What am I doing with my life?
If my life is going to be short or even if it was going to be blessedly long, how did I want to live it? Was my work integrated with the life I truly wanted? Was I doing the work in the world that I truly wanted to do?
What was I going to do?
I vowed to take the time to figure out what work would make my heart sing. l dreamed of a career that I felt completely engaged in and energized about.
And so my journey began.
I prioritized solving this problem and set aside a few hours every week to consider and explore these questions. I invested in coaches, went on retreats, read books, did endless assessments and exercises and pursued further education and training. Eventually I got certifications in both coaching and applied positive psychology.
Some tools worked better than others but altogether they had an effect. I started making small changes. Some of those spiraled into bigger changes.
If you are stuck on what's next for you, here are three strategies that can help you move forward:
1) Curiosity- This is the most important mindset to hold when facing challenges. Practicing a curious mindset allows you to approach challenges as learning opportunities and gives you the freedom not to have the answers yet. When you're curious you ask questions like "How can I....?" "How might I...?" rather than hold harsh judgements like, "that'll never work!" Embrace your inner child and get really curious about your challenges.
2) Learn New Tools- If you're like me (and everyone I know), you may not know the resources, tools or ways to solve this problem yet. I'm guessing you didn't attend a university course on crafting your career. So how are you supposed to know HOW to do it? Don't beat yourself up for not knowing-- just learn how. Get help. Read books, listen to podcasts, or work with a coach.
3) Radical Collaboration- The gurus in design thinking taught me this. It's really hard to come up with novel and innovative solutions by talking to yourself. Zoom out! Don't just talk to your family and small group of friends either. Collaborate with others who may have ideas or answers for you.
And remember, advice is valuable at a certain point in the journey, but the best advice lies within yourself.
Before you tap into a wider network, spend time in self-reflection. Get to know what really drives you, what really inspires you so that you ensure you're asking the right people for advice.
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